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Determination of Daily Sediment, Nutrient, and Sediment-Associated Chemical Concentrations and Loads for the Conterminous U.S.Piloted in the Mississippi River Basin

John R. Gray (USGS), Chuck E. Shadie (COE), Jim Stefanov (USGS) and Charlie Crawford (USGS)

with considerable heavy lifting by our USGS and COE colleagues

Follow-up to the July 27 and Oct. 6, 2009, USGS-COE Quarterly Meetings

USGS National Center, Reston, VA

February 2, 2010


Per Oct. 6, 2009, USGS-COE meeting directives

“Provide a proposal for National Sediment and QW monitoring, piloted in the Mississippi River Basin, at next Quarterly Mtg.”

Sept. 27 USGS-COE meeting

Nov. 3 EPA/NOAA/USDA meeting

And here we are…

National Sediment & QW Monitoring Program

national sediment qw monitoring program piloted in mrb
National Sediment & QW Monitoring Program, Piloted in MRB

Formal submission of Proposal to COE and USGS

Brief background

Need for Monitoring Program

Description of Key Program components

Potential Partners

USGS/COE Proposal for a Long-Term National Monitoring Program initiated as a Mississippi River Basin Pilot Program






Great Lakes &

Ohio River


A Proposal to Establish a Long-Term, Base-Funded, Network-Design National Monitoring Network to Generate Sediment, Nutrient, and Sediment-Associated Chemical Concentrations, Loads, Budgets and Temporal Trends

Integrated with existing networks.


$75-$90M annually, 400-450 stations

Based on National Monitoring Network Design (ACWI)

National Program cost <1% of estimated costs/sediment damages annually

Ergo, 1% reduction in damages/costs will pay for the National Program

VISION: A NATIONAL Sediment & QW Monitoring Program Cost/Benefits


$17.6M in FY2012; ~$14M annually thereafter

Based in part on National Monitoring Network Design (~50% of available NMN sites)

The means for quantifying sediment and QW fluxes to address large-scale problems

A framework for supporting “nested” sediment- & QW-flux research on smaller scales

NOW: Mississippi River Basin Pilot Program


Sediment Damages in North America (mostly in US) total $20-$50 BILLION annually (ARS-USGS)

As much as 25 mi2 Louisiana Coast lost annually

Northern Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

COE dredging programs in MRB alone total ~$1Billion annually

EPA, NOAA, USDA, others have major investments in MRB

Who Cares?


Because it wasn’t done before…!

Because it is necessary for making informed decisions on resources management.

Because even modest returns on investment will pay for the program – likely many times over.

Because reliable, network-design-based information will greatly increase the accuracy of our models.

Why Now?


1. Establish a sediment, nutrient, and solid-phase QW monitoring program on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers, and selected tributaries to compute fluxes at key spatial and time scales.

2. Ascertain trends in sediment and constituent transport on selected economic, ecologic, and restoration activities in the MRB.

MRB Pilot Program -- OBJECTIVES


68 stations

20 priority 1

48 priority 2

Max use of USGS gages & programs

Priority 1:

Large-scale processes

Priority 2:

Watershed proc./issues

MRB Pilot Program -- Scope


Suspended Sediment (routine)

Fluxes by size category (silt/clay vs sand)

Full gradation from samples

Nutrients, other QW

Filtered Water (routine)

Nutrients, common ions, trace elem., pesticides, other

Bed Material (2/year)


Selected QW

Bedload (non-routine)

MRB Pilot Program -- Constituents


Traditional Equipment and Methods

Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project Samplers and Sampling Techniques Are the Standards

for quality-

assured data

USA, and International Standards Organization


Optical Backscatterance & Turbidity

Paul Buchanan (USGS), San Francisco/Delta Bay, April 1999

example side looking adv abs
Example: Side-Looking ADV/ABS

Courtesy of Sontek/YSI, Inc.

Sontek Long-Range

Argonaut-SL Systems

Single Frequency

1.5 – 120 meter penetration

isokinetic withdrawal lisst sl
Isokinetic withdrawal LISST-SL
  • Active control, pump-assisted
  • isokinetic withdrawal
  • Pitot tube velocity sensor
  • 2-Wire communication
  • Optional internal battery
  • Low drag permits low weight.

Cooperative Research and Development Project

Between Sequoia, Sci., Inc.,USGS, FISP


ID Principal Sources/Sinks of sediment, nutrients, other QW constituents.

Identify phase of transport of sediments as a function of location, flow, other variables.

Calibrate model(s) to “allocate” sediment to source types based on digital coverages, thus enabling simulation of sediment transport by real or simulated land use.

All data on-line/publically available.

MRB Pilot Program – Synthesis


Interest in initiating Louisiana MRB monitoring in 2010 (Science and Technology Program – COE and Louisiana).

Proof-of-concept / demonstration for surrogate monitoring, and shake-out for methodologies/protocols.

Represents a phased approach.

MRB Pilot Program – MRB Pilot Prelude?


EPA and NOAA have considerable interest in sources and transport mechanisms for nutrients.

USDA likewise has interest in sediment and nutrient transport from farmlands to receiving waters.

31 MRB States have vested interests.

MRB Pilot Program – Potential Partners


MRB Pilot Program, 2012++, $17.6M yr 1, ~$14M thereafter until subsumed by ~$75-$90M/yr National Program.

Based in part on National Monitoring Network Design – no substitute for some level of baseline monitoring.

Provide technically supportable basis for modeling and management.

Provide improved information for decision-makers on various projects in the MRB.



Full proposal and synopsis respectfully submitted by the COE and USGS development team.

Both publically available.

Intend to share with EPA, NOAA, USDA, and other potential partners.

Guidance on how to proceed.

Thanks for the opportunity to share our half-year-long efforts.

Next Step?